Tax, technology and transformation - coming to terms with the true art of the possible

August 11, 2020

by Bivek Sharma Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0)7483 164356

If in January you were asked to assess how effectively your tax and finance function would be able to harness technology to rapidly implement and adapt to change, how would you have responded? The disruption caused by the response to COVID-19, and a need to focus on cost management, respond to changing regulatory requirements and also make sure your people had the skills and tools they needed presented a supercharged version of the trends tax leaders have been aware of for a while. And having risen to that initial challenge, a number of organisations are seeing lockdown’s pause on ‘business as usual’ as an opportunity to double-down on this tech-led transformation as part of their way out of lockdown. So what are the essential points to keep in mind?

Rethink your definitions of tax technology

A trap many tax leaders and their organisations can fall into is not being able to see beyond the technology. By building an awareness of technology as another part of how a modern tax function - and organisation - runs, tax leaders can start to get comfortable with the language around technology as well as its potential transformative applications. This is important. Being able to ‘talk the talk’ does more than secure your seat at the boardroom table, it helps translate the benefits for those who don’t speak the complex language of tax. So reach out and get ERP or tech expertise involved early to build your own understanding. You may be surprised by what’s possible.

Think big, but start small

There’s another advantage to bringing in tech experts to build your initial wishlist. By sharing knowledge and looking at the wider technology within your business as well as the tax problems you want to solve with both a tax and a technology expert view, you could well uncover some quick wins. Based on our experience, we believe that the majority of manual tax processes can be streamlined in two to four weeks with the use of simple automation tools. A lot of organisations are already sitting on a range of automation and other tools included within existing enterprise licences - they’re simply not being used. These can make a great starting point to build momentum and enthusiasm for more ambitious transformation. For example, the admin burden of pulling data from different systems for reconciliation and reporting is ideal for automation due to its repetitive nature. We recommend taking the time to build a basic understanding of the tools you already have and what they do - or even your organisation’s starting level of digital fitness.

To visualise your end goal, don’t underestimate data

Breaking down the complexities of tax or technology for those who don’t necessarily see them as their day job is a critical success factor. And this is where data visualisation can really come into its own. Data visualisation can allow conversations with C-Suite to take place with a different level of understanding. Complex issues can be represented in a much more comprehensive way. And it can make the true scope of long term gains - which may go beyond a single part of the organisation - easier to understand.

by Bivek Sharma Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0)7483 164356